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Beltsville Conservation Center 




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Beltsville Conservation Center 



Design Guidelines 



Contents 

The Groundwork for Action: 
Aspirations and Project History 

Site Considerations and 
Charrette Objectives 

The Broad Vision 

Additional Issues and Guidelines 



6 

10 
14 



Process, Elements of the 

Master Plan and the Design Team 16 

Appendix 1: 

Summary of the Design Guidelines 20 

Appendix 2: 

Charrette Team Biographies 2 1 

Appendix 3: 

Charrette Agenda 24 



U.S. Department of Agriculture 
Soil Conservation Service 
Report of the Design Charrette Team 
September 23-24, 1993 



Prepared By 

Design Arts Program 

National Endowment for the Arts 

December 1993 



The Groundwork for Action: 
Aspirations and Project History 



The Beltsville Conservation Center 
(BCC) will he a showcase of conserva- 
tion practices and education. The 
project, located in Maryland on a 
1 ,400-acre tract of rolling hills - a mix 
of farmland and forest only 1 5 miles 
northeast of the White House - is to 
be developed and managed by the Soil 
Conservation Service (SCS), an agency 
within the Department of Agriculture. 
The SCS sees the effort as a clear ex- 
pression of its vision: "A productive 
nation in harmony with a quality envi- 
ronment." In this context, according to 
project leader and SCS Deputy Chief 
of Technology Robert Shaw, the BCC 
is "a unique opportunity to 'market' 
conservation and demonstrate an 
ecosystem-based approach where 
human needs - especially those related 
to farming, conservation systems and 
water management - are integrated 
within a more comprehensive under- 
standing of the other environmental 
needs and relationships." 



The BLAST Team Report 

The present strategy for the BCC 
evolved from a year-long SCS study 
initiated in October 1991. (The com- 
pleted study was dated October 1992 
and was distributed as an in-house 
document entitled Beltsville Conservation 
Center - Report of the Beltsville Land and 
Site Team. A summary of the report, 
"Beltsville Conservation Center - 
Executive Summary," was published 
by the Government Printing Office in 
1993.) The mandate to those involved 
with the analysis was "to develop a plan 
to more effectively use the land pres- 
ently occupied by the National Plant 
Materials Center (NPMC) in Beltsville, 
Maryland, a suburb of Washington, 
DC." After 1 1 months of intensive 
research, the Beltsville Land and Site 
Team (BLAST) made several findings. 
First, it concluded that the site was 
special, one of only a "few places so 
close to a large metropolitan area that 
afford rural scenery typical of a remote 
countryside." Second, it called atten- 
tion to the ideal location of the NPMC 
property - just outside the nation's 
capital and close to airport, highway, 



rail and subway transportation. In 
additional findings, it noted potential 
new SCS uses for the site as well as 
opportunities to build partnerships 
with agencies that had facilities nearby. 

Based on these facts, the BLAST 
team made six recommendations: 

1 . Establish the Beltsville Conservation 
Center "corridor" to market conserva- 
tion; 

2. Relocate the NPMC facilities and 
redirect its activities to complement 
the conservation corridor concept; 

3. Establish facilities for education and 
marketing on the BCC site; 

4- Relocate the Earth Team (SCS's 
volunteer network) and Conservation 
Education headquarters to the BCC 
site; 

5. Actively explore opportunities with 
the U.S. Department of Agriculture to 
relocate or co-locate SCS personnel to 
Beltsville; and 

6. Establish ongoing collaborative 
partnerships with neighboring federal 
agencies including NASA, the Agri- 
cultural Research Service (ARS), and 
the Fish and Wildlife Service (F&WS). 



It then went on to identify many of 
the specifics involved in implementing 
the recommendations, and outlined a 
five-year schedule and a modest $1.26 
million budget to complete the project. 
Extensive appendices to the report 
analyzed the BCC's 1 ,400 acres with 
respect to criteria such as soil types, 
recreation development, wildlife habi- 
tat and suitability for building. 

Given a tour of the site and an exten- 
sive presentation on the aspirations for 
the BBC, SCS's director and other top 
managers gave their endorsement and 
full support to the undertaking. With 
that approval, the initial stages of the 
project have begun. An agreement has 
been worked out with the ARS to 
manage those parts of the 1,400 acre 
site that were not originally under SCS 
control. A design has been developed 
to renovate an existing NPMC struc- 
ture as a temporary visitor briefing 
center. Offices for the Earth Team are 
being moved to the Beltsville location 
and conservation systems have been 
constructed at the southern end of 
the site. 












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The site was special - 
one of only a "few places 
so close to a large 
metropolitan area that 
afford rural scenery typical 
of a remote countryside." 



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Subsistence settlements 
dating back 3,000 to 
6,000 years ago show 
some dependency upon 
the site for production 
of food. Prior to the 
17th century, the area 
was a quiet home to the 
Nanchotank tribe. In the 
1930s, SCS acquired 
management responsibility 
for the site. This 1937 
photograph shows workers 
removing pines stumps to 
make a clearing. 



The Charrette 

While these first steps got the BCC 
underway, a key element of Phase 1 
implementation was to avoid a piece- 
meal approach by preparing a detailed 
conservation plan - including land- 
scaping and architectural proposals - 
that reflected all six BLAST team 
recommendations. The dilemma was 
that while the SCS project leaders had 
given much thought to the philosophy 
and individual facets of their conser- 
vation showcase, they were not ex- 
actly sure how these elements could 
be orchestrated into a single, powerful 
design. 

At this juncture, Thomas Grooms, 
manager of the Federal Design Im- 
provement Program in the Design 
Arts Program at the National Endow- 
ment for the Arts, in consultation 
with the BLAST team, suggested 
convening a "charrette" as a way to 



translate the concepts behind the 
BCC into a set of clear design priori- 
ties and guidelines. ("Charrette" 
comes from a French phrase that 
described the hectic rush of students 
at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts to com- 
plete their architectural drawings. 
Today, the term refers to an intense 
study of a particular design problem.) 
The outcome of this session would 
not be a final design. Rather, it would 
be a compelling design vision for the 
BCC, a valuable set of guidelines for 
whomever was chosen to develop the 
detailed master plan. 

Not long after the SCS agreed to use 
the charrette process, five nationally 
regarded experts were invited by the 
Design Arts Program of the National 
Endowment for the Arts to participate. 
Diana Balmori, landscape architect, 
urban designer and Yale University 
professor, chaired the team. Her 
associates were John Tillman Lyle, a 
Cal Polytechnic landscape professor, 



architect and planner; John Padalino, 
president of the Pocono Environmen- 
tal Education Center; Michael Hanke, 
an interpretive exhibition designer 
with DMCD in New York City; and 
James Wines, architect and principal 
of SITE in New York City and chair 
of Environmental Design at Parsons 
School of Design. The group gathered 
on September 23-24, 1993, and after 
a full agenda of presentations and site 
tours, they spent the rest of their time 
together discussing and evaluating a 
range of different design ideas. This 
document, prepared by rapporteur 
Thomas Walton, professor of Archi- 
tecture at The Catholic University of 
America, summarizes the BCC design 
guidelines that emerged from this 
meeting. 



Site Considerations and Charrette Objectives 



The wonder of the Beltsville Conser- 
vation Center site is that its rolling 
hills, farmland, lake and forests are so 
close to the dense urban development 
of Washington, DC, and the sprawl 
that characterizes the suburbs around 
the capital. Located in Maryland, 
northeast of the District of Columbia 
just beyond the beltway, the area 
seems, in many ways, untouched by 
this growth. It truly is, as those who 
have the good fortune to wander 
through its knolls, "an oasis of green." 
Because it is such a unique and special 
place, and because site issues generally 
have a significant impact on design, 
it is worthwhile including a few com- 
ments about the BCC landscape. 
There is no pretense of being compre- 
hensive. The facts that follow are 
mentioned simply because they 
formed the guidelines presented later 
in this report. 



Site Considerations 

Understanding the larger context of 
the BCC site is crucial to developing 
a valid design program for the center. 
In particular, one important point is 
to know that the 1 ,400 acres of the 
BCC are actually part of a much larger 
30,000 acre U.S. government-owned 
green space. This vast tract extends 
from Severn to the north to Beltsville 
in the south and parallels the Balti- 
more/Washington transportation 
corridor. Control of the larger property 
is in the hands of various federal 

Location 

(BCC is shown by shaded area) 



agencies that either maintain the land 
in its natural state or have developed 
it with various low-density functions. 
In the exceptionally crowded New 
York-to- Washington segment of the 
United States, this amount of contigu- 
ous green space represents an extraor- 
dinary natural resource. 

A second important feature of the site 
is its location near the headwaters of 
the Anacostia River watershed. The 
Anacostia is a major waterway run- 
ning through the eastern sector of the 
District of Columbia. Now badly 



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polluted by runoff, Maryland's Mont- 
gomery and Prince Georges counties 
as well as the District of Columbia 
have agreed to improve the river's 
water quality by participating in a 
program that will gradually restore the 
watershed. In this context, the BCC 
cannot only serve to demonstrate 
certain principles related to conserva- 
tion and wetlands but also illustrate 
the broader concept of watersheds and 
ways to protect this kind of essential 



Related more specifically to the BCC's 
1,400 acres, these items should be 
noted: 

I The BCC's immediate neighbors 
include the ARS and a Secret Service 
installation to the north, the ARS and 
the Baltimore-Washington Parkway to 
the west, NASA to the south, and the 
ARS to the east. To the northeast, the 
F&.WS has its extensive Patuxent 
Wildlife Research Center. 

I The BCC property itself is bisected 
by the federally-maintained Soil 
Conservation Service Road running 
north-south and the county-main- 
tained Beaverdam Road running 




Visitors should come 
away more knowledgeable 
about the meaning and 
importance of wetlands 
and with a better idea of 
how water moves across 
the landscape... 



east-west. Powder Mill Road runs 
along its northern border and provides 
vehicular access to the site from the 
Baltimore-Washington Parkway and 
Route 1. 

I The possibility of closing the south- 
ern end of Soil Conservation Service 
Road as a way of controlling traffic 
through the proposed expansion of 
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center 
is currently being evaluated. 

I Metro or subway access to the BCC 
is available from the Greenbelt stop, 
4-5 miles to the southwest of the 
Center. 

I Certain aspects of the BCC site are 
unlikely to change. These include the 
present balance of forested versus 
open land, the path of Soil Conserva- 
tion Service Road and the fiber optics 
cable buried along its right-of-way, 
and the existence of a Department 
of Justice firing range and a National 
Arboretum tree stocking facility 
within the boundaries of the Center. 



I A radio and electronics installation 
adjacent to the central eastern perim- 
eter of the site may limit uses proposed 
for that part of the BCC. 

I At the intersection of Soil Conserva- 
tion Service Road and Beaverdam 
Road, there is a wooden farmhouse on 
the crest of the hill that probably 
merits preservation. 

I Other buildings on the site are al- 
ready slated to be torn down (the pig 
farm) or may be modified or removed 
to suit the goals of the design master 
plan. 

I All proposed BCC construction and 
landscaping will follow prevailing state 
and local building and environmental 
codes. 

Charrette Objectives 

Within these givens - realities that 
represented both opportunities and 
constraints - the SCS enumerated 
several objectives it expected the 
charrette team to incorporate into its 
suggestions. Reflecting the basic 
premise for the project, the agency 



wanted the BCC to become a national 
demonstration of conservation prac- 
tices, an outdoor classroom where 
individuals from the United States, 
and for that matter from around the 
world, could see and leam about the 
most effective and environmentally 
sound approaches to soil and water 
management. It wanted the design 
emphasis placed on landscape rather 
than on architecture. While there 
would be a small investment in new 
buildings, the idea was to show people 
what was involved in conservation 
instead of telling them about it in 
a visitor's center. And, as was the 
agency's tradition, it wanted all this 
done with relatively modest means - 
the BLAST team report outlined a 
five-year budget of just over $1.2 
million. Finally, it stated its commit- 
ment to achieving these objectives in 
a way that made the entire undertak- 
ing a model of design excellence. 

In terms of detailed guidelines, the 
SCS asked the charrette team to 
address these questions: 

I What design strategies will most 
effectively deliver the message that 



the BCC is a unique national demon- 
stration area for ecologically-based 
management of natural resources? 

I How should pedestrian and vehicu- 
lar circulation to and within the BCC 
be handled? 

I How should the relationships and 
transitions among the BCC and neigh- 
boring facilities be treated? 

I What education and interpretive 
design approaches will work best at 
conveying the conservation and 
watershed restoration practices to be 
installed on the BCC? 

I How should buildings and other 
design elements related to the BCC 
be treated in terms of such criteria as 
scale, materials and siting? 

I What would be the recommended 
process for implementing the design 
of the BCC? 



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The Broad Vision 



Responding to the uniqueness of the 
program and its objectives as well as 
the beauty of the site, the charrette 
team divided its recommendations for 
the BCC into two types - those that 
shaped a broad vision for the BCC and 
those that addressed certain issues and 
details of the project. Eight guidelines 
fall into the first category. These were 
considered paramount because they 
establish the overall character of the 
BCC as a model for conservation and 
conservation education. The para- 
graphs that follow summarize these 
eight critical guidelines. 

The 1,400 acres of the Belts ville 
Conservation Center should be 
treated as the crown jewel of the 
much more extensive, government' 
owned 30,000 acre green space. 
This larger entity - the largest tract 
of relatively undeveloped public lands 
between Boston and Washington - 
is a valuable regional resource that 
could serve as a environmental transi- 
tion into the more intensely designed 
BCC. To this end, conservation prac- 
tices of a more modest nature could, 
over time, be implemented at strategic 
locations across the entire 30,000 



From its gateway and throughout 
the exhibits, trails and facilities 
installed on the site, the BCC must 
visually distinguish itself as a truly 
unique and environmentally 
sensitive place. 

In a sense, it should be a visual expres- 
sion of a philosophy about living and 
working harmoniously with nature 
and the land. This special quality 
should be revealed in the entry experi- 
ence and way the larger landscape is 
treated and maintained - thoughtful, 
beautiful and healthy. It should be 
experienced in how people move 
through the site. The SCS should 
seriously consider having visitors 
change their mode of transportation at 
the edge of the site. Individuals might 
switch to non-polluting trams or bikes 
or explore the BCC on foot. Finally, 
this harmony should be seen in all the 
built elements of the site including the 
infrastructure. Paving, for example, 
might be kept to a minimum and be 
permeable, and the relationship be- 
tween water and the landscape might 
be featured in different ways through- 
out the Center. 



Understanding the concepts of an 
ecosystem and watershed should be 
significant elements of the BCC 
program. 

In addition to conveying information 
about an array of specific conservation 
practices, there is an opportunity for 
the Center to explore the larger ideas 
of ecosystem and watershed. In part- 
nership with other surrounding agen- 
cies, it should be possible to interpret 
certain aspects of the complex interre- 
lationships among human beings, 
animals, the land, air and water. For 
instance, visitors might learn how 
different combinations of soil types, 
water and land use support different 
mixes of plant and animal life. With 
respect to watersheds, they might 
come away more knowledgeable about 
the meaning and importance of wet- 
lands and with a better idea of how 
water moves across the landscape and 
from our built environments into 
aquifers, streams and river basins. 
The unifying themes of the BCC 
might focus on the interplay of soil 
and water. 



Conservation practices and exhibits 
must be designed and installed with 
the intention of making the BCC a 
readable landscape. 

Landforms, vegetation and water use 
should be shaped and organized to 
dramatize the conservation, ecosystem 
and watershed messages. Certain 
elements might need to be exagger- 
ated in terms of size or scale in order 
to read well. The goal should be to 
create a place that is both "hands-on" 
and "minds-on." The master plan 
should outline a variety of options for 
visiting the BCC in terms of time and 
how the site is explored. There might 
be one series of experiences for those 
touring via tram or bike and another 
layer of interpretive events for those 
that can more leisurely walk through 
designated areas and trails. In addi- 
tion, the spacing of practices needs to 
be laid out so the sequence is clear 
and lively. Tours should be neither too 
long nor too short, and the transition 
from one exhibit to the next should be 
designed to maintain visitor interest 
and avoid confusion. 



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be a "good field/bad field" 
demonstration of 
conservation practices. 







Center exhibits and 
conservation systems 
should offer easily 
readable and ecologically 
sound alternatives 
to natural resource 
degradation such as 
the erosion shown in 
this photograph. 



All elements, practices and exhibits 
within the BCC should represent 
cutting edge, state-of-the-art 
methods and materials. 

The Center should be an expression 
of the most up-to-date understanding 
of conservation and ecological issues. 
It does not need to convey any sense 
of having all the answers. On the 
other hand, it should identify impor- 
tant themes, questions and areas of 
research and, where possible, demon- 
strate the most effective and latest 
techniques for dealing with those 
topics. Obviously, specific design 
features of the BCC should change 
as knowledge as well as conservation 
and ecological priorities change. Some 
of the exhibits might also be subjects 
of research with results communicated 
to visitors. 

Volunteers and interns should be 
active participants in building, 
maintaining and interpreting the 
Center's exhibits. 

People should be the bridge between 
visitors and the BCC's lessons about 
conservation practices, ecosystems 
and watersheds. While there certainly 



should be interpretive materials and 
displays that do not require a guide, 
the vitality and meaning of the various 
sites and demonstrations will be greatly 
enhanced if Earth Team volunteers or, 
on occasion, SCS staff members lead 
tours. This makes it easier to tailor 
visits to the interests of different audi- 
ences. More importantly, such interac- 
tion complements the basic premise 
behind the BCC as a place that speaks 
to the interrelationships among 
human beings and nature. 

The next step in the BCC design 
process is to develop a master plan 
that includes a symbol, a plan and 
a story line for the project. 

The symbol should be a visual element 
- a landscape fragment, a graphic, 
a built object, perhaps all of these - 
that conveys and locks into people's 
memories the Center's identity. The 
plan should respond to the context of 
the larger 30,000 acre green space of 
which the BCC is a part. It should 
locate and outline the content of 
everything that is to be designed on 
the site including SCS facilities and 
Center-related spaces as well as con- 
servation practices and exhibits. It 



should also suggest the phasing and 
budget for completing the work. The 
story line should be the conceptual 
narrative that unites the many and 
diverse BCC experiences into a 
focused and coherent message. 

Finally, a limited number of 
exhibitions and conservation 
practices should immediately be 
installed on the site. 

This should parallel the master plan- 
ning process and serve as an experi- 
ment in scale and on making ecologi- 
cal practices readable. For example, 
without trying to preempt the master 
planning process, the installation of 
such practices as contour farming, 
terraces, grassed waterways, wetland 
development, field borders and field 
windbreaks could serve as a harbinger 
of the ideas behind the BCC and 
become a valuable marketing tool. 



13 



Additional Issues and Guidelines 



Without making any claim to being 
comprehensive, the charrette team 
identified several other issues and 
guidelines they believe can refine the 
program and design of the Center. A 
number of the ideas were design re- 
lated while another cluster pertained 
to exhibits. Subheadings have been 
used to distinguish the general recom- 
mendations from those in these two 
more specific areas. 

General Guidelines 

A clearer definition of the audience 
is essential to the successful 
programming and design of the 
BCC. 

Discussion revealed that initial visitors 
to the Center would be special indi- 
viduals and groups - for example, 
representatives from Capitol Hill who 
want to learn more about conserva- 
tion and wetlands, or professionals 
from other countries investigating 
conservation practices currently advo- 
cated in the U.S. Later, the audience 
might be expanded to include the 
general public. The charrette team 
thought this last group was an impor- 



tant constituency for the BCC mes- 
sage, but independent of this judg- 
ment, it is crucial for those develop- 
ing the master plan to not only know 
what they are designing but for whom 
they are designing. 

The BCC should have strong ties 
with other organizations in the U.S. 
and abroad that have a focus on 
conservation and ecology. 

Many institutions have done consid- 
erable research and developed inter- 
esting programs in this arena. The 
SCS should build on and extend its 
existing links to leverage this wealth 
of information, sharing ideas, exhibi- 
tion and interpretive strategies, and 
perhaps establishing joint programs. 

The opportunities for the BCC 
to work with its agency neighbors 
needs to be more fully explored. 

The ecological theme opens doors to 
work with the ARS and the FekWS. 
NASA's earth and natural resources 
monitoring programs offer additional 
possibilities for joint ventures. Un- 
doubtedly even more can be done, 
and the SCS should identify these 
options as part of the master planning 
effort. 



The overall design impact of the 
BCC should be focused and 
charismatic. 

Since conservation, ecology and wa- 
tersheds are such complex and vast 
topics, there is a risk that the Center 
could become a confusing blend of 
practices, exhibits and ongoing SCS 
functions. The BCC master plan 
should distill a strong message and 
suggest the conceptual boundaries 
within which later design work should 
take place. 

Given its national/international 
significance, the BCC should be 
renamed. 

Design Guidelines 

Conceptually, the BCC should be 
considered an outdoor classroom. 

Reiterating an earlier point, the design 
emphasis should be on making the 
landscape readable and conveying 
important lessons about the interac- 
tion between human beings and na- 
ture. The principles guiding the 
project, then, should be quite different 
from the soon-to-be-opened FekWS 
visitors' center that separates people 
from the environment. Whatever is 
built or installed in terms of practices 



and exhibits at the BCC should give 
people a hands-on, close-to-the-real- 
thing experience. 

The gateways to the BCC merit 
special design attention. 

These will be critical features of the 
project. They should be memorable 
symbols for the Center and a thresh- 
old into its special world. In particular, 
access by car and subway and the 
potential transfer to other modes of 
transportation have to be integrated in 
a way that complements the BCC's 
environmentally-conscious theme. 

Architecturally, all BCC buildings - 
proposed and existing - should 
reflect the Center's environmental 
concerns and philosophy. 

They should be modest in scale. They 
should demonstrate the best conserva- 
tion/ecology-oriented strategies for 
integrating buildings and the land- 
scape. They should conserve natural 
resources. They should be uniting 
places to work and visit. And with 
respect to style, they might reflect the 
farming traditions of the site. 

With NASA thinking about 
expanding its facilities, something 
should quickly be developed within 



14 



the master planning process to claim 
the southern part of the site as 
distinctively BCC territory. 

Without this effort, NASA might seek 
control over land within the proposed 
BCC boundaries. 

Environmental and conservation 
issues related to the Baltimore- 
Washington Parkway should be part 
of the BCC design program. 

The relationships between roads and 
the landscape are a critical conserva- 
tion/ecosystem/watershed topic. As 
the western boundary of the site, the 
Parkway offers an important opportu- 
nity to address this subject. Exhibits 
should also include a historical per- 
spective on evolving conservation 
practices going back to Native 
Americans. 

A site model should be constructed 
as an essential design tool in the 
master planning effort. 

It should be of a scale large enough to 
actually indicate the nature and form 
of conservation practices as well as 
architecture and landscape elements. 
It should be built in modules that 
easily permit additions and changes. 
And obviously, it should be used to 
explain and sell the BCC undertaking. 



Exhibit Guidelines 

BCC conservation practices and 
exhibits should include human 
beings as a positive element in 
understanding how ecosystems 
work. 

The BCC should be a place that dem- 
onstrates how human beings can live 
and work in harmony with nature. A 
visit should help people understand 
how nature works and how human 
beings can discover themselves in and 
shape the environment without dam- 
aging it. Emphasis should be on hu- 
man ecosystems, with the natural 
ecosystem used as a baseline and point 
of reference. 

Practices and exhibits should be laid 
out to accommodate various kinds 
and intensities of visits. 

There might, for instance, be a nar- 
rated overview tram tour. Then, 
perhaps at stops along the tram tour 
and depending on the time people 
have, their interests, and the schedule 
of BCC activities, there might be 
opportunities to explore various theme 
trails and exhibits for those desiring a 
more in-depth look at particular con- 
servation/ecosystem/watershed topics. 
These latter tours might be given at 
specific times by Earth Team volun- 



teers and/or be self-guided. In all cases, 
because the site is so large, the spacing 
and flow of exhibits needs to be 
thoughtfully developed. 

Practices and exhibits should 
provide visitors with stimulating, 
even challenging, experiences. 

As mentioned earlier, the BCC should 
be "minds-on" as well as "hands-on." 
People should come away not only 
knowing how to work with the land- 
scape but with new insights and ques- 
tions regarding the relationships be- 
tween human beings and nature. To 
illustrate this point, the charrette team 
offered several examples of the kinds 
of experiences they might include in 
the BCC repertoire: 

I A "good field/bad field" demonstra- 
tion of conservation practices. 

I A "back yard" or garden exhibit of 
conservation/ecosystem/watershed 
practices in a residential setting. 

I A series of different scale conserva- 
tion practices including residential 
(large scale), commercial, and agricul- 
tural situations. This builds on the idea 
for a "backyard" exhibit and expands 
it as a framework that includes the 
readable landscape and all scales of 
applied conservation practices. 



I Exhibits on soil types and the kinds 
of plants that grow in different soils 
and microclimates with emphasis on 
the regional context. 

I An exhibit demonstrating the key 
features of the local ecosystems and 
the significance of these for agricul- 
tural and urban development. 

I An exhibit that asks people to 
identify their "watershed address." 

I An exhibit on the "Heroes of 
Conservation." 

I An alle of trees in various stages 
of growth. 

I A variety of scheduled hands-on 
events and demonstrations. 

I An exhibit on the processes related 
to the watershed and their significance. 

To create a readable landscape, 
practices and exhibits may need to 
be exaggerated. 

This is especially true if elements are 
to be seen from a distance. In this 
regard, designers should pay particular 
attention to and craft the sequence of 
landscape forms, textures and colors 
on the BCC site. Consideration should 
also be given to how this changes with 
the seasons. 



15 



Process, Elements of the Master Plan, 
and the Design Team 



The program and site analysis con- 
tained in the BLAST team report and 
the design guidelines outlined in this 
document make it possible to move 
forward with a more detailed design 
development of the BCC site. The 
next step in the process should be the 
preparation of a thorough design 
master plan. The implementation of 
the master plan should be staged over 
several years, but to maintain the 
momentum of the project and create a 
design context for later additions to 
the Center, the master plan commis- 
sion should probably be augmented to 
include specific designs for the first 
increment of work. This phase of the 
effort could have landscape, architec- 
tural and graphic design elements. 

The solicitation of proposals for the 
master plan should ask each respon- 
dent to identify the team it would 
involve in the planning and the work- 
ing relationship it would like to estab- 
lish with SCS representatives and 
decision-makers. Each respondent 
should also outline a schedule for 
completing the plan and the deliver- 
ables it would have at various points 
within that time frame. 



For its part, the SCS should state the 
in-house expertise it intends to make 
available to the master planning team, 
how it will evaluate solicitation 
responses, and the review procedures 
it expects to use to evaluate planning 
and design project ideas. It should 
also be aware that the planning effort, 
along with finalizing details for the 
first increment of the Center's devel- 
opment, could involve six or more 
months of intense work. 

Elements of 
the Master Plan 

The completed BCC master plan 
should have these features: 

I A plan, story and symbol for the 
Center's design that reflects the 
BLAST team and design guideline 
recommendations. 

I A precise scheme for the layout and 
visual qualities of conservation prac- 
tices, exhibits, roads, trails and facili- 
ties at the Center. 

I Guidelines for the design of entries, 
edges and special places within the 
Center. 

I Transportation plans for getting to 
and from the site as well as for explor- 



ing its 1,400 acres, including details 
regarding parking, trails, bike paths 
and the options for motorized vehicles. 

I An environmental graphic design 
strategy for the project that conveys 
the BCC's unique identity, enhances 
a visitor's understanding of how the 
Center is organized, and makes it easy 
to explain the content of specific 
conservation practices and exhibits. 

I Specific sequences for touring the 
conservation practices and exhibits 
that vary from a quick overview to an 
in-depth look at particular conserva- 
tion/ecology/watershed themes. 

I A description of the Center's various 
audiences. 

I An outline of the educational objec- 
tives for the site and the specific con- 
servation practices and exhibits that 
fulfill those objectives. 

I An inventory and disposition of the 
site's major landscape and architec- 
tural elements. 

I A program for new and renovated 
facilities on the site. 

I Architectural concepts and guide- 
lines for site facilities. 



This photograph of a 
field windbreak shows 
how the limbs of 
Ponderosa pine trees 
planted in 1950 and 
Lombardy poplars 
planted in 195 1 have 
filled in after six years. 



16 



Exhibits might include 
windbreaks in various 







;vr —<r w 



Designers should 
craft the sequence 
of landscape forms, 
textures and colors- 
Consideration should 
also be given to how 
this changes with 
the seasons. 






- ." 



■mas 



^ZZ^Ti 









5 "fl' | 






This photograph shows 
a six-year-old living snow 
fence under test in the 
Pullman Nursery Unit of 
the state of Washington. 
A select, weak suckering 
strain of snowberry 
completely controlled 
snow drifting. 



I A strategy for completing the entire 
project over a multi-year period. 

I A budget estimate for the first phase 
of design and construction. 

I A model (one that can be modified 
in the future) that shows the final 
master plan design. 

I A plan for marketing and building 
support for the BCC. 

I A conceptual scheme and recom- 
mendations for establishing functional 
relationships with the larger 30,000 
acre greenbelt and the adjacent re- 
lated facilities such as NASA and the 
F&WS. 

The Design Team 

In the context of these guidelines, 
the design team refers to the outside 
consultants responsible for developing 
the master plan just described. These 
are the people who will be working on 
the design on a day-to-day basis. This 
might include one or two key SCS 
representatives, but beyond that, the 
agency should regard itself as an in- 
formed client and the provider of 



expert consultants in selected techni- 
cal areas such soil engineering and 
ecology. This is not to imply that the 
SCS should not be actively engaged in 
the master planning and design pro- 
cess but only that involvement will 
largely be in the form of providing 
detailed program, site and budget 
information followed up by the regular 
review and discussion of design ideas. 

Consistent with this definition, the 
membership of the design team should 
include: 

I One or two landscape architects. 

I A conservation/ecosystem expert. 

I An interpretive designer and exhibit 
specialist with experience in convey- 
ing process and working on a large 
scale. 

I An environmental graphic designer. 

I An architect. 

I An SCS spokesperson for the BCC 
project. 



19 



Appendix 1 

Summary of the Design Guidelines 



The Broad Vision 

I The 1,400 acres of the Beltsville 
Conservation Center should he 
treated as the crown jewel of the 
much more extensive, government- 
owned 30,000 acre green space. 

I From its gateway and throughout the 
exhibits, trails and facilities installed 
on the site, the BCC must visually 
distinguish itself as a truly unique and 
environmentally sensitive place. 

I Understanding the concepts of an 
ecosystem and watershed should be 
significant elements of the BCC pro- 
gram. 

I Conservation practices and exhibits 
must be designed and installed with 
the intention of making the BCC a 
readable landscape with visitors learn- 
ing through direct experience. 

I All elements, practices and exhibits 
within the BCC should represent 
cutting edge, state-of-the-art methods 
and materials with provisions for 
evolving as practices evolve. 



I Volunteers and interns should be 
active participants in building, main- 
taining and interpreting the Center's 
exhibits. 

I The next step in the BCC design 
process is to develop a master plan 
that includes a symbol, a plan and a 
story line for the project. 

I Finally, a limited number of exhibi- 
tions and conservation practices 
should immediately be installed on 
the site. 

General Guidelines 

I A clearer definition of the audience 
is essential to the successful program- 
ming and design of the BCC. 

I The BCC should have strong ties 
with other organizations in the U.S. 
and abroad that have a focus on con- 
servation and ecology. 

I The opportunities for the BCC to 
work with its agency neighbors needs 
to be more fully explored. 



I The overall design impact of the 
BCC should be focused and charis- 
matic. 

I The BCC should be renamed to 
reflect its national/international sig- 
nificance. 

Design Guidelines 

I The gateways to the BCC merit 
special design attention. 

I Conceptually, the BCC should be 
considered an outdoor classroom and 
laboratory. 

I Architecturally, all BCC buildings - 
proposed and existing - should reflect 
the Center's environmental concerns 
and philosophy. 

I With NASA thinking about expand- 
ing its facilities, something should 
quickly be developed within the mas- 
ter planning process to claim the 
southern part of the site as distinc- 
tively BCC territory. 



I Environmental and conservation 
issues related to the Baltimore-Wash- 
ington Parkway should be part of the 
BCC design program. 

I A site model should be constructed 
as an essential design tool in the mas- 
ter planning effort. 

Exhibit Guidelines 

I BCC conservation practices and 
exhibits should include human beings 
as a positive element in understanding 
how ecosystems work. 

I Practices and exhibits should be laid 
out to accommodate various kinds 
and intensities of visits. 

I Practices and exhibits should provide 
visitors with stimulating, even chal- 
lenging, experiences. 

I To create a readable landscape, 
practices and exhibits may need to be 
exaggerated. 



20 



Appendix 2 

Charrette Team Biographies 



Diana Balmori 

Charrette Team Chair 
(New Haven, CT) 

Principal at Balmori Associates, Inc., 
a landscape and urban design firm 
which she founded in 1990. Prior to 
this she was principal for landscape 
and urban design at Cesar Pelli and 
Associates. Ms. Balmori holds a joint 
appointment in the School of Archi- 
tecture and the School of Forestry at 
Yale University. Her major works 
include the World Financial Center, 
Winter Garden, Battery Park City, 
NY; the Pacific Design Center Plaza, 
West Hollywood, CA; and the Pratt 
Street Urban Design Plan and the 
Hartford Convention Center District 
Design Guidelines, Hartford, CT. She 
is the author of Beatrix Jones Farrand: 
Fifty Years of American Landscape 
Architecture and Beatrix Farrand 's 
American Landscapes: Her Gardens & 
Campuses, and is currently at work on 
a book on the American lawn as well 
as a contributor to two books on 
greenways. Ms. Balmori studied archi- 
tecture at the University of Tucuman, 
Argentina, and received a Ph.D. in 
Urban History from the University 
of California, Los Angeles. 



Michael Hanke 

(New York, NY) 

Interpretive designer and senior 
associate at DMCD Inc. His work 
has included concept development, 
design, and installation supervision 
for interpretive projects at historical 
sites, science museums, worlds fairs 
and visitor centers. He has extensive 
experience in planning exhibits, orga- 
nizing exhibit materials and artifacts, 
and coordinating the activities of the 
diverse disciplines that comprise an 
exhibit team. His projects have in- 
cluded the design of an educational 
exhibit about the gas industry for the 
American Gas Association at the 1982 
Worlds Fair in Knoxville; the concep- 
tion, design and management of the 
interpretive treatment for Blue Heron, 
a former coal mining community site 
located in the Big South Fork Na- 
tional River and Recreational Area of 
rural Kentucky; and the development 
of a comprehensive master plan for an 
educational exhibit about petroleum 
for the Abu Dhabi National Oil Com- 
pany. He is currently director of inter- 
pretive design for a major museum 



about the Mashantucket Pequot 
Indians of Southeastern Connecticut. 
He holds a Bachelor of Industrial 
Design from Pratt Institute and his 
Blue Heron project was named the 
recipient of a Presidential Design 
Award for Design Excellence. 

John Tillman Lyle 

(Sierra Madre, CA) 

Professor in the Department of Land- 
scape Architecture, California State 
Polytechnic University, Pomona, CA, 
co-project director of 606 Studio, and 
practicing architect and designer and 
planner. Recent case study projects for 
606 Studio include the master land- 
scape plan of the Jet Propulsion Labo- 
ratory; Planning for Sustainability: A 
New Community Landscape Plan at 
Falkensee, Germany; Plan for the 
Santa Ynez River Valley for the City 
of Lompoc; and Open Space Reserve 
Stewardship Plan for the Nature 
Conservancy. Mr. Lyle is a member of 
the Blue Ribbon Task Force on Envi- 
ronment and Development, American 
Society of Landscape Architects, and 
member of the Advisory Board on 
Environment and Sustainability, 



American Institute of Architects. He 
has written extensively, and his book 
on Regenerative Design for Sustairutble 
Developmeiu, funded in part by a 
USA Fellowship from the National 
Endowment for the Arts, is being 
published. Mr. Lyle received a Bach- 
elor of Architecture from Tulane 
University and a Master of Landscape 
Architecture from the University of 
California, Berkeley. 

John Padalino 

(Dingmans Ferry, PA) 

President of the Pocono Environmen- 
tal Education Center, Dingmans Ferry, 
PA, the largest residential center for 
study of the environment in the West- 
ern Hemisphere, and adjunct professor 
of science education at City University 
of New York, Hunter College. Mr. 
Padalino initiated projects at PEEC 
that were recognized as Outstanding 
Conservation Programs by the Penn- 
sylvania Association of Soil Conserva- 
tion Districts. Under his leadership 
PEEC also has been identified as 
Conservation Education Organization 



21 



ot the Year by the Pennsylvania Wild- 
life Federation. He is immediate past 
president of the National Science 
Supervisors Association, and past 
president of the American Nature 
Study Society and Alliance for Envi- 
ronmental Education. Mr. Padalino 
has undergraduate degrees in biology 
and Early Colonial American History 
and an MA in Field Natural History 
from William Paterson College, along 
with an MA in Conservation and 
Environmental Education from 
Montclair State College. 

James Wines 

(New York, NY) 

President of SITE, architects, artists 
and designers in New York City, and 
chairman of Environmental Design at 
Parsons School of Design. SITE is 
known for its cutting-edge work in the 
Age of the Environment and Ecology 
and is dedicated to the fusion of land- 
scape and buildings. SITE's objective 
is to allow earth, stone and foliage to 



serve as the ingredients of construc- 
tion so that architecture can reflect a 
climate of flux and change, ambiguity 
and evolution. Recent projects include 
the Aquatorium and Ross's Landing, 
Chattanooga, TN; World Ecology 
Park, Windsor, Canada; The Four 
Continents Bridge, Hiroshima, Japan; 
and Shinwa Resort, Kisokoma-Kogen, 
Japan. Mr. Wines is also a sculptor 
who has exhibited in over 80 museums 
and private galleries including the 
Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney 
Museum of American Art, The Art 
Institute of Chicago, The Tate Gal- 
lery, London, and the Stedelijk Mu- 
seum, Amsterdam. His sculptures and 
graphics are currently in over 40 
museum and private collections. Mr. 
Wines lectures and publishes exten- 
sively. Among his awards and fellow- 
ships are the The Pulitzer Prize Fel- 
lowship, The Rome Prize Fellowship, 
The Guggenheim Fellowship, and 
several National Endowment for the 
Arts grants. 



Charrette participants 

(left to right): 

Robert Klumpe 
Peter Smith 
Ronald Tuttle 
Robert Shaw 
Mike Hanke 
Thomas Walton 
Thomas Grooms 
John Padalino 
John Tillman Lyle 
John Englert 
Diana Balmori 
Tom Levermann 
Jeff Anliker 
Richard Duesterhaus 
James Wines 
Peter Kumble 



22 



The outcome of the 
charrette session 
would not be a final 
design. Rather, it would 
be a compelling design 
vision, a valuable set of 
guidelines. 







fiC^ 



'3 






<<j^Li 






»* 






****- 



* * 



Appendix 3 

Charrette Agenda 



Thursday 

September 23, 1993 

8:00 am Welcome 

Robert J. Klumpe 

State Conservationist, Maryland 

Opening Remarks 

Robert R. Shaw 

Deputy Chief of Technology 

Thomas Grooms 

Federal Design Improvement Program 

Design Arts Program 

National Endowment for the Arts 

Charrette Objectives 

Ronald W. Tuttle 

National Landscape Architect 

8:45 am Conceptual Plan 

Richard L Duesterhaus 
Assistant Chief, Northeast 

John Engler 

Plant Materials Specialist 

Jeffrey Anliker 

National Volunteer Coordinator 

9:30 am Tour of BCC Area 
Robert J. Klumpe 



11:45 am Related Planning 



12:30 pm 
1:30 pm 

2:30 pm 
5:00 pm 



Don Bills 

Beltsville Agricultural Research Center 

Peter Kumble 

Senior Planner 

Metropolitan Washington Council 

of Governments 

Lunch 

Charrette Teams Selects Design Guideline 
Topics and Outlines Charrette Format 

Charrette 

Adjourn 



Friday 

September 24, 1993 

8:00 am Reconvene Charrette 

12:00 am Lunch 

1 -.00 pm Review and Finalize Charrette 
Recommendations 

3:00 pm Report and Closing Remarks 

4:00 pm Adjourn 



24 



national 

endowment 

forMJthe 

ARTS 



Design Arts Program 

National Endowment for the Arts 

1 100 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW 

Washington, DC 20506